In recent years, increasing numbers of people have turned to what is likely to be their biggest asset to boost their income in retirement.
This is because, as the retirement gap continues to widen, growing numbers of people are having to source extra money to support their vision for later life.
According to recent figures from the Equity Release Council, this has resulted in homes paying out more than £10m a day in 2018, as lending reached a record high of £3.9bn last year.
As borrowing in later life is entering the mainstream of financial planning and the older audience is becoming increasingly digitally native, more people are turning to the internet – and websites are helping to educate them on their borrowing options.
By far and away the most popular section of the Equity Release Supermarket website is ‘Compare Plans’, which captures 29 per cent of all site visits.
For those interested in comparing plans, drawdown options are almost twice as popular as lump sum – 25 per cent are looking at drawdown, 14 per cent at lump sum and 10 per cent at interest-only plans.
This reflects the industry, where 65 per cent of new plans sold in the fourth quarter of 2018 were drawdown and 35 per cent were lump sum.
While these plans continue to dominate the market, innovative plans catering for new market segments are also growing in popularity – such as voluntary repayment plans.
Today, 7 per cent of our website visitors take them into consideration. Likewise, 5 per cent are reviewing Rios and retirement mortgages.
When people want to learn more about their lending options, we are seeing that most go straight to lifetime mortgages; making up 76 per cent of visitors to the ‘plans’ pages.
In contrast, only 5 per cent are reading about retirement mortgages and 4 per cent home reversion.
We also see that 44 per cent more of our site visitors want to read about their options after using one of our nine calculators.
In the calculator section, the lump sum calculator is proving to be the most popular with 23 per cent of views, with interest-only second (13 per cent) and voluntary repayment third (8 per cent).
I find it fascinating to understand how the content on our website is being consumed at different stages of the customer journey and what this can tell us about people’s thought processes.
For instance, if our website data is reflective of the wider market, the industry needs to recognise that a significant percentage of people are at the stage where they are keen to learn about equity release and their other borrowing options in later life.
They are not yet at the point where they are looking to speak to an adviser and so should not feel pressured to complete calculators as their only option to gather the information they need.